Cyumba Wheat Innovation Platform set to Change Wheat Story in Rwanda

An Innovation Platform (IP) recently established in Cyumba area in Rwanda has selected wheat as its primary commodity of interest since the locality has ample capacity for wheat production over two seasons in a year. This arose as a result of the wheat production system in Rwanda which is faced with low productivity from the unavailability of seeds of improved varieties, poor agronomic practices and poor access to market.

Cyumba IP was set up by the Rwanda Agricultural Board with support from FARA within the Humidtropics research program in 2015. The platform is determined to change the wheat story in Rwanda having recently mobilized 1,322 members with a total of 670 ha of well terraced land dedicated to wheat production. The platform has created six innovation clusters in Ryamuromba, Nubuga, Kigarama, Rusebeya, Gipandi and Remera. It has also engaged all the needed stakeholders group to leverage available research results and market linkages to boost its production and market access. It boasts of the presence of Phembe Wheat milling factory on its platform (Phembe is one of the two major wheat miller in Rwanda, and the mill is willing to buy off all the wheat produced by the platform provided its prescribed quality standards are met).

Threshing wheat using the traditional method of beating with stick to remove the grains

Threshing wheat using the traditional method of beating with stick to remove the grains

The current yield of wheat on farmer’s field in Rwanda is as low as 2 tons per hectare while elite varieties could yield as high as 6 tons per hectare. Despite the potential capacity to produce wheat in the Northern and Western part of Rwanda, the country still imports over 80% of its annual wheat consumption costing the country about Thirteen Million US Dollars ($13,000,000).

In lieu of the above, members of the Cyumba IP lamented the current state of their production and the low price that is offered for their wheat due to its quality. A kilogram of wheat is currently sold for Rwf 300 to 350 depending on quality, and this is equivalent to 0.5 US dollar per kilogram of wheat grains.

A farmer on the Cyumba IP examining Wheat grain readiness for harvest

A farmer on the Cyumba IP examining Wheat grain readiness for harvest

In a project field visit of FARA to the platform, Dr. ’Wole Fatunbi, FARA lead specialist on Agricultural Innovation Systems charged the platforms to try out the elite wheat varieties with RAB. This should be followed by the selection of the appropriate varieties that meet the quality requirements of the miller who is the end user of the product. He further challenged the platform to acquire the small scale harvester and/or the threshing machine to replace the traditional threshing method of beating with stick that leads to substantial grain loss and contamination with sand.

Dr Wole Fatunbi (FARA) making a point on Cyumba IP wheat field in Rwanda

Dr Wole Fatunbi (FARA) making a point on Cyumba IP wheat field in Rwanda

The platform indicated the willingness to try out the different elite varieties in the new season starting in March 2016 and will need to put stronger efforts into seed multiplication to meet the 67 tons of seeds needed to meet its production capacity this year. The platform is also planning a series of training activities for its members on improved practices, regarding input supply. Although, the platform has engaged responsive input dealers on the platform, it has also put in place good strategy to access impute from the Rwanda government provisions.

The Cyumba Innovation platform is comprised of willing farmers with ready mind to foster a change by investing into their own livelihood, coupled with responsive research system and good political will. All is now set to move the wheat production and marketing story to the next level in Rwanda.

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